Fans of The Masked Singer UK may adore Rhino’s country swagger, but the character was initially planned to be a different member of the animal kingdom.
The horned beast made his debut in front of judges Mo Gilligan, Davina McCall, Rita Ora, and Jonathan Ross in week two of the 2023 series on ITV, leaving jaws on the ground with his performance of Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars.
Rhino is poised to make his highly awaited return tonight, along with Fawn, Jacket Potato, Pigeon, and Rubbish, as fans continue to think that the mask is being worn by Busted’s Charlie Simpson.
While speaking with costume designer Tim Simpson of Plunge Creations, he disclosed that the character was originally conceived as a lion, but the idea did not work out.
‘Rhino started out as a lion. ‘It was a sketch from another season that we shelved because it wasn’t quite working,’ he explained.
Then one of The Masked Singer UK’s producers had the bright idea of dressing a rhino in a diamante-encrusted costume… As they say, the rest is history.
‘Dan, one of the producers said, “Why don’t we turn it into a rhino stone cowboy?”’ he recalled, prompting the team to set to work sourcing the fabrics that they needed to make this vision a reality.
‘The changes in colour, the changes in style, then the fabric we wanted we couldn’t get hold of, so we then moved to a different fabric… often the changes are to do with supplies and supply chains.’
Tim outlined how nowadays, with there being fewer high street haberdashers and fabric shops, it can be ‘harder’ to buy materials, as there’s less opportunity to ‘actually rummage through materials’.
‘You’re doing a lot of research online. It’s not quite so much fun and it’s slower because you don’t know what you’re gonna get. So you have to get samples to you,’ he explained.
‘Then when they arrive, you go okay, that doesn’t work, then it’s a bit of a redraw, then it has to get checked off by everybody, because we want to get a nice spread of colours and textures and things in the whole ensemble.
‘We’ll sometimes go back to the drawing board and go okay, we’ve got something blue in the mix. Let’s see if we can turn this red thing into a purple thing.’
In the end, Rhino’s design was a success, and Pearly King – an ornate-looking lion persona – was chosen for The Masked Dancer UK 2022, with former Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli behind the mask.
Some viewers thought Rhino’s clue package might be related to the quartet Blue, because there was a sign that said ‘Welcome to Cobalt,’ and cobalt is a tint of the primary colour.
There were also three arrows in the background, with beloved boyband Busted being one of them, further supporting the theory that Year 3000 vocalist Charlie is behind the mask.
The Masked Singer UK returns Saturday night at 7pm on ITV and ITVX.